Due to the pandemic, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve traveled out of state. To get back into my comfort zone, I decided on a weekend roadtrip to Indianapolis. Although the cost of gas is ridiculously expensive, driving to Indianapolis was only 2 1/2 hours away. That’s the same amount of time for this South-Sider to drive to Elgin, Illinois during weekday rush hour traffic!
It’s Saturday afternoon, and the first stop on my road trip was to the Albanese Candy Factory Store in Merrillville, Indiana. To my amusement, there was more than the infamous gummy bears I see at the local grocery store and pharmacy. There’s tons of chocolates that you can purchase by the pound, and other candies that you can pick up from the candy bins. I also didn’t know it was a tourist attraction that many families flock to in Indiana. It was crowded for a Saturday afternoon, but the lines moved quickly.
After racking up a couple of pounds of gummy bears, chocolate brownie bites, chocolate and amaretto almonds, and two packs of Hi-Chews; the road trip continue on to Southlake Mall for lunch at Chili’s – seems like I was never leaving the Lake County, Indiana region. My husband loves authentic Mexican and TexMex food. Since he was doing all the driving, he might as well eat what he likes for the ride. We feasted on some fried pickles, spicy shrimp tacos, and bbq brisket quesadillas.
I was entirely too full, and grateful that I wasn’t driving; we continue on to Indianapolis. For a major interstate, and on fourth of July weekend, the traffic was pretty light, and only took us 1 1/2 hours to get to the Home2 Suites by Hilton in Whitestown, Indiana. The hotel appears to be in a small suburban town with tons of retail stores and restaurants. Although our suite had a refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishes, and glassware, plus an outdoor bbq grill with a patio near a pond – this lady was not cooking over the weekend.
Our next stop on our weekend road trip to Indianapolis was to the Red, White, and Blueberry Festival at Mallow Run Winery in Bargersville, Indiana. It was my first time visiting a winery. I don’t drink wine, and my husband doesn’t drink any form of alcohol. However, the festival had food trucks and a fireworks show. Well when we arrive, we were noticeably out of our element. Out of the hundreds of attendees, there was possibly less than 1% that may have identified as people of color in the crowd. In addition the food truck lines were incredibly long. Needless to say, we didn’t stay long! We were there long enough to take in the scene, take photos, and say we were there!
If I traveled to Indiana again during Independence Day weekend, I must stop by the CarmelFest. Watching highlights on the news, this seemed like our type of scene – amusement rides, food, pageantry – basically “all the things”! In fact, one night during our hotel stay, I was able to watch the spectacular fireworks show from my room.
On to some great food – we stopped for dinner at Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill in Greenwood, Indiana. For a barbecue chain, they have great food and drinks on the menu. The husband and I partook in a mocktail – Peach Fizz, pork belly pops, St. Louis ribs with jalapeño cheddar sausage plus smoked wings, baked beans, and potato wedges. This meal more than made up for the limited and long food truck lines at the winery festival.
On Sunday morning, before our 20 minute trip from the hotel to Indianapolis, we ate breakfast at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, located across the street from our hotel. It’s one of those breakfast restaurants that I have to stop at whenever there’s one in my vicinity. I simply can’t resist the hashbrown casserole! The hubby and I ate the Grandma’s Sampler and Momma’s Pancake Breakfast. I love the little bottles of pancake syrup. Somehow, there’s always enough for my pancakes.
Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave for the locals)
I did a lot of research on the Visit Indy website, and I still wasn’t prepared for the sites in this location. There’s a lot of walking in this area. Wear your comfortable shoes and check for the timeframes the stores are opened. We walked around the Bottleworks District on the north end of Mass Ave corridor. The district was recently redesigned with a beautiful hotel, shopping, gaming area (Pins Mechanical), theater, and food hall. The online directory has a layout of places to check out. The parking lot behind the Food Hall was $6 for 3 hours.
At the southern end of the Mass Ave appeared to be where more action was happening. There’s more retail shops and restaurants. We enjoyed lunch at Tavern at the Point. My husband and I both ate the Crispy Mahi-Mahi sandwich with lettuce, black bean, horseradish sauce and pickles.
Next, we drove a few blocks down to the Fountain Square area. It was definitely more quiet, but it could have been because the heat index was over 100 degrees! The night time may have been more lively.
I wasn’t quite ready to go back to the hotel, so we took in more scenery on our way to the infamous Long’s Bakery. Although the donuts were small and good, they weren’t amazing or memorable. Instead, I wished I went to the Doughnuts and Dragons. Based on their Facebook page, the donuts looked comparable to a few local shops in Chicago.
At this point of the trip, I need a nap to help the headache I’m getting from the heat. But of course, because it’s daytime, I can’t sleep, and instead watch Couples Retreat back at the hotel. I forgot how stupidly funny that movie is with two of my favorite actors, Jason Bateman and Vince Vaughn (no relation).
For dinner, we ate at a Texas Margarita. As I mentioned at the beginning, my husband loves authentic Mexican food. As with all the locations we visited, this place was not overly crowded. We were seated right away. Our tummies were not disappointed. From the salsa and chips, guacalole dip, Acapulco rib eye and shrimp, and carne asada tacos – we feasted like the other families that were in the establishment.
After eating, we decided to drive a few miles in both directions to see what else was happening in Whitestown. Ha! We’re still in Indiana, so there was more stretches of farmland.
Monday morning, during our last few hours in Indy, we ate breakfast at J&J’s Pancake House. Surprisingly for Independence Day, the restaurant had a lot more patrons than originally expected. Although it’s a pancake house, my husband sent his pancakes back because they tasted hard. Eventually he opted for the buttered wheat toast to go along with the mexican omelette and hashbrowns. I ate the mini waffle pancakes, bacon, and hashbrowns.
As we traveled back home, I had 2 1/2 hours to reflect on the best parts of the trip. Besides hanging out with my husband, I stayed in Whitestown – a name that seems like a bunch of racist folks – had some friendly people in the hospitality industry. I visited a winery for the first time. I tasted some good food from some nice restaurants, and watched a spectacular fireworks show from the comfort of my hotel room. Not bad for local weekend road trip and getaway to Indianapolis.